MARCH 20, 2022
COLUMBUS, Ohio – National Champion! The Ohio State women’s hockey team capped a dominant 2021-22 season by winning the national championship Sunday with a 3-2 victory over Minnesota Duluth in the finals of the Frozen Four at Pegula Ice Arena in University Park, Pa.
The game was terrific. It featured five ties and lead changes and the Buckeyes used goals by Paetyn Levis in the first period and by Clair DeGeorge and Kenzie Hauswirth in the third to offset an equally spirited game by Minnesota Duluth. Ohio State goalie Amanda Thiele made 17 saves for her 18th win of the season against just three defeats. The Buckeyes did not commit a penalty and held a 39-19 advantage in shots.
Ohio State, in its third Frozen Four under the leadership of sixth-year coach Nadine Muzerall, won its final 10 games of the season, including wins over No. 3 Wisconsin and No. 1 Minnesota to win the WCHA Final Faceoff, and earned the program its first-ever No. 1 ranking. The Buckeyes won a school-record 32 games, including a record 17 on its home ice, led the nation with 175 goals scored, set a program record with 289 points on the season, and led the nation with a 37 pct. power play.
Ohio State was just as elite in the classroom as on the ice this year. Academically, all 15 players who met the one-year playing requirement were named to the WCHA’s All-Academic Team, and 14 of those players boasted GPAs of at least 3.50.
So this was truly a quality Ohio State team on and off the ice, and the perfect unit to claim the program’s first national championship in its first championship game.
“I just believed in these girls so much, as they did in each other,” three-time WCHA coach of the year Nadine Muzerall said to the ESPNU announcers after the game. “This was one of the best hockey games they played all year. They were so deserving of this and they never quit. They played flawlessly tonight and I am so proud of them.
“I thought we did a great job of getting after them fast in the first period and then continuing to keep that pressure. I thought our transition game was excellent and I thought we did a great job with back pressure.
“And we scored when we needed to. Even though they counter punched after each goal, we didn’t quit, and I think that shows the sign of a champion.”
How it Happened – 1st Period
It was an even period, although Ohio State seemed to have the better of the scoring opportunities. The Bulldogs, known for clogging up the middle in front of their goal, were doing just that and finished the period with eight blocked shots. Ohio State fired 10 shots on goal to Minnesota Duluth’s eight. There were no penalties.
Just over three minutes in Ohio State went on the power play when Anna Klein was called for hooking. Moments later the Buckeyes sent the puck around the boards that Minnesota goalie Emma Soderberg tried to stop. The puck bounced over her stick. Clair DeGeorge was there and backhanded a blind pass between her legs toward the front of the net, and Paetyn Levis smacked it home while getting smacked to the ice for the 1-0 lead. It was Levis’ team-leading 24th goal of the season and her sixth of the post-season.
The goal was like a boost of adrenalin for the Buckeyes. Levis followed her goal by hitting the cross bar on a drive and she did it again two minutes later, right before Sophie Jaques fired from point blank range that Soderberg made the save on.
Minnesota Duluth kept coming at Ohio State, though, and tied it with 7:18 to play in the period as Naomi Rogge deflected a shot by Kailee Skinner from near the blue line that trickled past Ohio State goalie Amanda Thiele. Each team then had some fine chances late in the period but to no avail.
Statistically, Ohio State was the aggressor, firing 20 more shots on the Bulldog goal while Thiele faced only five shots.
Ohio State regained the lead just 47 seconds into the third period. Soderberg came out of the net to try and beat Levis, who was flying down the middle of the ice, to the loose puck. Soderberg slipped and went sprawling, and DeGeorge beat a trio of Bulldogs scrambling toward the front of the net for the goal and a 2-1 lead. It was DeGeorge’s third goal in the last three games and her 16th of the season. Levis earned the assist.
But exactly one minute later Minnesota Duluth tied it. Elizabeth Giguere went top shelf glove side to beat Thiele with Klein getting the assist.
Then with 6:40 left to play, Kenzie Hauswirth gathered the puck off a pass from around the boards that originated from behind the net. She fired a shot toward the net and in the direction of Lexi Templeman, but it ricocheted off a Bulldog defensemen’s skate and into the net for a 3-2 lead. It was Hauswirth’s fifth goal of the season with four of them coming in the last seven games.
Ohio State held on from that point and, in particular, through the last two minutes when it forechecked like crazy, consistently beat the Bulldogs to the puck and nullified an icing call with its speed.
“I told them to stay composed [with two minutes to play in the game] and told myself that I guess,” Muzerall said. “I said, ‘do you want to be a national champion? You’re knocking on the door. Do what you have to do but be smart. No cross ice passes. Soft chips, wear them down and don’t let the goalie come out.’”
Ohio State’s efforts kept Minnesota Duluth from pulling Soderberg until just 34 seconds remained.
And 34 seconds later, the Ohio State Buckeyes were national champions.
- The national championship is the first for the program in this, its 22nd season.
- Head coach Nadine Muzerall has now won seven national championships: as a player (in 2000 and 2001 with Minnesota); as an assistant coach (2012-13-15-16 with Minnesota) and now as a head coach.
- Hockey is the second women’s sport at Ohio State to win an NCAA team championship. Rowing won three consecutive NCAA titles in 2013-14-15.
- The team that scored first won each of the five games between Ohio State and Minnesota Duluth this year.
- Paetyn Levis scored a goal in each of the Frozen Four games and set an Ohio State post-season record with 11 points.
- Assistant coach Emily West now has won a national championship as a coach after winning one as a player, in 2012 with Minnesota.
- Assistant coach Zoe Hickel was a two-year team captain for Minnesota Duluth between 2011-15.
- Ohio State is now 5-2 all-time in the NCAA tournament.
- The game made history with each team in the final game featuring all-female coaching staffs.
Shots: Ohio State 39, Minnesota Duluth 19
Saves: Ohio State (Thiele) 17, Minnesota Duluth (Soderberg) 36
Power Play: Ohio State 1-1, Minnesota Duluth 0-0
Faceoffs: Ohio State 28, Minnesota Duluth 28
Ohio State Scoring: DeGeorge (1-1-2), Levis (1-1-2), Kenzie Hauswirth (1-0-1)
COURTESY OSU ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS